Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Around the AL after 20 games (or so)

We're just passed the 20 game point in the season, so our intrepid reporter Hugo First checks in with his first report of the season:

- Seattle looks like they're for real. Yeah, pitching at Safeco helps the staff, but that's not the only reason they're giving up the fewest runs in the AL- they've got the arms as well. Scary part is, Denny Moss hasn't hit at all (.180) yet- just wait until he gets it going.

- I know teams go up and down, but even still, I didn't think at the time of this report I'd wake up and see Milwaukee and Monterrey both in last place in the standings. Monterrey's offense is letting them down right now- they have an OBP of .321 as a team.

- As for Milwaukee, their pitching has failed them- they're 15th in runs given up in the AL (only Boise is worse). Lawrence Carver has been particular egregious- he's lost all 5 of his starts with an ERA of 9 even. Perhaps needless to say, he's been demoted to bullpen duty. Now the Milwaukee press can turn their attention to James Morton and his 5.79 ERA.

- The pleasant surprise this season has been Oklahoma City, coming out of the gate at 16-8. I don't think they can sustain it, however. Heath Caufield, Jay Guiel, and Patrick Hughes all have ERAs under 2 right now, but none of the 3 have a track record. Caufield and Hughes both have career ERAs over 4.5, and this is Guiel's first big league season. So unless Guiel is far better than the scouts expected and Hughes and Caufield (at age 32) have somehow figured it out, don't expect this hot start to continue.

- Syracuse is pretty much in the same boat as OKC, as they are riding arms (Louie Bolivar, Tony Rowan, and rule-5 guy Dan Callaway) who either have no track record or a track record of mediocrity. Congrats to them on starting 15-9, though. How you go 6-1 in one-run games while your closer has a 6.75 ERA is beyond me.

- You have to feel bad for Louisville. On paper, it looked like this might be the year where Milwaukee and Monterrey maybe weren't as loaded as in the past and you thought maybe this could finally be their year. Then they lose Albert Herzog for the season in his third start.

- St. Louis leads the North at 16-8. 3B Osvaldo Armas is on pace to reach career highs in homers and RBI by the All-Star break.

- Two familiar names, Luis Martinez and Julio Diaz, are the early MVP favorites. Diaz still hits homers with the best of them but is also hitting for average so far this season, and Martinez looks like his old self, with 10 HRs and 4 steals.

- I know he's never been a great average hitter, but it's hard to believe James Dixon is hitting only .189.

- I know Boston's tied for first. But I just can't see a team giving up almost 6 runs a game staying in a race.

- How on earth does Andy Ramsey have a 1.53 ERA and a 2-3 record?

- OKC's Heath Caufield is in contention to pull off a highly rare double so far: He's second in the AL in ERA and in walks.

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